Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Goodreads Description

Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

My Review

I'm a huge fan of everything Victorian so when I heard that was the setting for Haunting Violet then it aroused my interest even though I usually avoid ghost and spirit stories because they're usually really not my thing. The Victorian setting is a perfect backdrop for the story of Violet Willoughby who is living the life of an upper class girl the daughter of a fraudelant medium because it gave it an intense and spooky gothic atmosphere. Apart from this, Harvey was able to use the fact that many people in the Victorian era were fascinated with the world of the supernatural and often those of the upper class became obsessed with it and it was clear that a lot of research had gone into the methods of mediums at the time. I think that the historical setting was meant as a backdrop so not everything was meant to be accurate but personally I would have enjoyed a bit more historical description of for example of Victorian London and I felt the dialogue seemed very modern.

The protagonist Violet was an easy character to sympathise with from the beginning because she has a tough life having to play her part in her mother's sham seances uncomfortably and she feels out of place in her fancy clothes and keeping rich company when her world could so easily be shattered from one small mistake in her mother's carefully planned deceptions. Despite the circumstances she finds herself in, Violet persevered and acted sensibly but she wasn't afraid to let her heart rule her mind when the time was right.  I also liked how she didn't seem out of place in the Victorian world whilst being easy for a modern reader to identify with but my favourite thing about her character is her relationship with her mother's assistant Collin whom she has been friends with all her childhood because they understood each other in a unique way. His Irish accent was so cute! Another of Violet's friends is Elizabeth, an upper class girl who was a loyal and funny friend.

I started Haunting Violet very wary of the ghost element of  it but I found it didn't bother me quite as much as I thought it would and it was chilly but not exactly scary. I enjoyed the suspense created by the murder mystery plot the setting of the large and haunted country manor house filled with the upper class gentry made it all the more mysterious. Harvey did a good job at keeping me guessing as to who the murderer was for at least part of the book because there were lots of twists and turns and this held my interest well. So if you love all things supernatural or are a murder mystery fan, then you'll be pleased to hear that this book will capture your imagination this way.

There's a dose of romance included too and I appreciated how there was no insta-love for once in a paranormal type book and the romance developed more slowly and won my approval because I felt it was justified and not just thrown in there for the sake of it. It was rather predictable which love interest Violet would eventually pick so it wasn't really a love triangle but I didn't mind this at all. I hear that Harvey has written a sequel waiting for publishing confirmation so I'd like to see more of the romance in the sequel because I'm a romantic at heart!

This is the first Alyxandra Harvey book I've read and I was happy to find that she has a lovely writing style because it's clean and precise without reams of description but there was some beautiful descriptive phrases and imagery used that really made this book work overall for me. Also, everything was so fast paced that when I finished I found it hard to believe that so much had been packed into it.

Verdict: Haunting Violet has an wonderfully eerie gothic atmosphere packed with suspense, drama and a smidgen of romance. I enjoyed Harvey's writing and the romance and would recommend it to paranormal and fantasy fans for something different from your typical shape-shifter plot. 

Rating: 4stars 

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Haunting Violet is released in the UK on the 9th July!

This review is part of Review Appreciation Day
at The Cait Files.


  1. Great review, I think I agree with all the points you made! I really enjoyed this book as well.

    The Cait Files

  2. The way you describe the mystery, paranormal elements, and romance is exactly what I want to hear. Too bad about the historical part. I like being absorbed into an historical period.

  3. I can't wait to read this book, I've been waiting for it to come out but now that it is my TBR is so huge I wonder if I'll ever get to it haha. Great review!

  4. I do like the sound of the suspense of this one! A pity about the modern dialogue, I can see how that would feel kind of out of place (although it might help some readers relate better to the characters, perhaps.) I'm glad to hear the research behind mediums in Victorian London was sound - that seems like a premise that would lend itself very well to the gothic atmosphere.


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